ASTANA – Although blind in one eye, Kuralbai Orynbassaruly has achieved excellent results in sambo and judo without any concession to his vision impairment. Following his first and only experience in the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympic Games, he has focused on popularising sporting opportunities for Kazakh individuals with disabilities.
“I lost my eye when I was 10 years old. I have an ocular prosthesis in my left eye. I always tried to conceal my physical impairment from others. I was afraid that this would stop my career in sports,” he said in an exclusive interview for this story.
Orynbassaruly is a three-time winner of the Asia Sambo Championship and bronze medallist at the Sambo World Championship. He started to speak about his disability when Kazakhstan’s National Paralympics Committee introduced him as a participant in the Rio Games, where he competed in Paralympics judo.
“I was 37 when I participated in the Rio Paralympics. It was my first experience of participating in Paralympics Games. I saw that the Paralympics movement has developed in other countries. My interest was not just in judo and sambo. I saw how the system works for different sports. I got many insights from participation in the most important international tournament in my life. Now, my goal is to promote the Paralympics movement in Kazakhstan. In 2019, I plan to open a sports club for disabled people in Shymkent. I want to give them an opportunity to realise their potential in sports. I will be happy to coach them and share all the experience I have in martial arts,” he said.
Orynbassaruly, who works as a senior coach at one of Shymkent’s sports schools, became an honoured coach of Kazakhstan in 2017. His mentees have remarkable achievements in sambo, judo and kazaksha kures (Kazakh wrestling).
Sabyrzhan Abildauly was the winner of the Kazakhstan Sambo, Judo and Kazaksha kures Championships and bronze medallist at the Asia and World Sambo Championships; Abdyrazak Baglan, winner of the Asia Sambo Championship and bronze medallist at the World Sambo Championship; Ruza Duktrubayeva, winner of the Asia and Kazakhstan Sambo Championships and silver medallist at the World Sambo Championship, and Gaukhar Turmakhanova, winner of the Kazakhstan Sambo, Judo and Kazaksha kures Championships, Asia Sambo Championship and World Sambo Championship.
“My participation in the 100 New Faces project is a great example for the young athletes I coach. I always tell them that they are able to reach any goal if they work hard. A professional will always get respect and recognition. Hard work will pay off. My life is a vivid example of this. I do not even know who introduced me to this project. I do not know the people who voted for me. I am grateful to all of them. Now, thanks to this project I can present my ideas to a wide audience through mass media and promote Paralympics values in Kazakhstan,” he said.